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Project Scheduling. WBS: quick recap. Types: Process, product, hybrid Formats: Outline or graphical org chart High-level WBS does not show dependencies or durations What hurts most is what’s missing Becomes input to many things, esp. schedule. WBS examples.

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wbs quick recap
WBS: quick recap
  • Types: Process, product, hybrid
  • Formats: Outline or graphical org chart
  • High-level WBS does not show dependencies or durations
  • What hurts most is what’s missing
  • Becomes input to many things, esp. schedule
wbs examples
WBS examples
  • The next two wbs’: two (fictitious) wbs taken from PMBOK
project scheduling6
Project Scheduling
  • Split project into tasks (= create a WBS)
  • Estimate time and resources required to complete each task.
  • Organize tasks concurrently to make optimal use of workforce.
  • Minimize task dependencies to avoid delays caused by one task waiting for another to complete.
  • Dependent on project managers intuition and experience.
  • “The single most important task of a project: setting realistic expectations. Unrealistic expectations based on inaccurate estimates are the single largest cause of software failure.”

Futrell, Shafer, Shafer, “Quality Software Project Management”

… now: just a couple of slides to keep going.

In the next few lessons: more detailed and accurate description (tools and techniques)


Activities/task characterized by:

  • Effort: how much work will the activity need to be completed
  • Resources: how many resources will be working on the activity
  • Duration: how long will the activity last for

… estimation technique provide (at least) two of the quantities specified above

  • Your best shot for providing estimations (how complex/how much work does the activity require?)
  • A.K.A. “Work”
  • Measured in man/month (3 m-m = 1 person working for 3 months; 3 people working for one 1 month)
  • Mind you though: communication increases the time to complete activities
  • How much time will the activity last for
  • Measured in (work-)hours, (work-)days, (work-)months, …
  • Calendar time != duration: calendar time includes non-working days, holidays, …
  • Usually:
    • A duration of 5 days == 40 hours (8 hours a day) = 1 calendar week (sat and sun rest time)
duration ii
Duration (II)
  • Some more relationships:
    • In some countries/contexts: 1 calendar week = 36 work-hours (7.12 hours/day)
  • A (work-month) maybe:
    • 20 days
    • 17 days

(… where are the missing days?)

a simplicistic view
A (simplicistic) view

D = E / M

  • Fix any two among D, E, and M, and you get the third
  • (once again) a simplification, but good enough for us (we embed the non linearity in the effort)
a simplicistic view ii
A (simplicistic) view (II)
  • When working with planning tools, you change one variable at a time.
  • Standard characterisation:
    • Fixed Unit. A task in which the assigned resources is a fixed value and any changes to the amount of work or the tasks duration do not affect the tasks units. (Duration x Units = Work).
    • Fixed Work. A task in which the amount of work is a fixed value and any changes to the tasks duration or the number of assigned resources do not affect the tasks work. (Duration x Units = Work).
    • Fixed Duration. A task in which the duration is a fixed value and any changes to the work or the assigned resources, don't affect the tasks duration. (Duration x Units = Work).
some general considerations
Some general considerations…
  • Estimating the difficulty of problems and hence the cost of developing a solution is hard.
  • Productivity is not proportional to the number of people working on a task.
  • Adding people to a late project makes it later because of communication overheads.
  • The unexpected always happens. Always allow contingency in planning.
  • Once tasks (from the WBS) and size/effort (from estimation) are known: then schedule
  • Primary objectives
      • Best time
      • Least cost
      • Least risk
  • Secondary objectives
      • Evaluation of schedule alternatives
      • Effective use of resources
      • Communications
some rules of the thumb
Some rules of the thumb
  • Organize tasks concurrently to make optimal use of workforce.
  • Minimize task dependencies to avoid delays caused by one task waiting for another to complete.
  • Dependent on project managers intuition and experience.
scheduling ii
Scheduling (II)

… according to Sommerville:

while project has not been completed or cancelled loop

Draw up project schedule

Initiate activities according to schedule

Wait ( for a while )

Review project progress

Revise estimates of project parameters

Update the project schedule

Re-negotiate project constraints and deliverables

if ( problems arise ) then

Initiate technical review and possible revision

end if

end loop

  • Precedence:
      • A task that must occur before another is said to have precedence of the other
  • Concurrence:
      • Concurrent tasks are those that can occur at the same time (in parallel)
  • Leads & Lag Time
      • Delays between activities
      • Time required before or after a given task
  • Milestones
    • Have a duration of zero
    • Identify critical points in your schedule
    • Shown as inverted triangle or a diamond
    • Often used at “review” or “delivery” times
      • Or at end or beginning of phases
      • Ex: Software Requirements Review (SRR)
      • Ex: User Sign-off
    • Can be tied to contract terms



  • Deliverable:
    • a deliverable is a measurable and verifiable work products (we saw it already!)

… in current practice sometimes milestone and deliverable are used interchangeably (both used to identify products - milestones may represent key-products)

  • Slack & Float
    • Float & Slack: synonymous terms
    • Free Slack
        • Slack an activity has before it delays next task
    • Total Slack
        • Slack an activity has before delaying whole project
    • Slack Time TS = TL – TE
      • TE = earliest time an event can take place
      • TL = latest date it can occur w/o extending project’s completion date
scheduling techniques
Scheduling Techniques
  • Mathematical Analysis
    • Network Diagrams
      • PERT
      • CPM
      • GERT
  • Bar Charts
    • Milestone Chart
    • Gantt Chart
network diagrams
Network Diagrams
  • Developed in the 1950’s
  • A graphical representation of the tasks necessary to complete a project
  • Visualizes the flow of tasks & relationships
mathematical analysis
Mathematical Analysis
  • PERT
    • Program Evaluation and Review Technique
  • CPM
    • Critical Path Method
  • Sometimes treated synonymously
  • All are models using network diagrams
network diagrams27
Network Diagrams
  • Two classic formats
    • AOA: Activity on Arrow
    • AON: Activity on Node
  • Each task labeled with
      • Identifier (usually a letter/code)
      • Duration (in std. unit like days)
  • There are other variations of labeling
  • There is 1 start & 1 end event
  • Time goes from left to right
network diagrams29
Network Diagrams
  • AOA consists of
      • Circles representing Events
        • Such as ‘start’ or ‘end’ of a given task
      • Lines representing Tasks
        • Thing being done ‘Build UI’
      • a.k.a. Arrow Diagramming Method (ADM)
  • AON
      • Tasks on Nodes
        • Nodes can be circles or rectangles (usually latter)
        • Task information written on node
      • Arrows are dependencies between tasks
      • a.k.a. Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM)
critical path
Critical Path
  • “The specific set of sequential tasks upon which the project completion date depends”
    • or “the longest full path”
  • All projects have a Critical Path
  • Accelerating non-critical tasks do not directly shorten the schedule
  • Critical Path Method
    • The process for determining and optimizing the critical path
  • Non-CP tasks can start earlier or later w/o impacting completion date
  • Note: Critical Path may change to another as you shorten the current
forward pass
Forward Pass
  • To determine early start (ES) and early finish (EF) times for each task
  • Work from left to right
  • Adding times in each path
  • Rule: when several tasks converge, the ES for the next task is the largest of preceding EF times
backward pass
Backward Pass
  • To determine the last finish (LF) and last start (LS) times
  • Start at the end node
  • Compute the bottom pair of numbers
  • Subtract duration from connecting node’s earliest start time
slack reserve
Slack & Reserve
  • How can slack be negative?
  • What does that mean?
  • How can you address that situation?
network diagrams41
Network Diagrams
  • Advantages
    • Show precedence well
    • Reveal interdependencies not shown in other techniques
    • Ability to calculate critical path
    • Ability to perform “what if” exercises
  • Disadvantages
    • Default model assumes resources are unlimited
      • You need to incorporate this yourself (Resource Dependencies) when determining the “real” Critical Path
    • Difficult to follow on large projects
4 task dependency types
4 Task Dependency Types
  • Mandatory Dependencies
      • “Hard logic” dependencies
      • Nature of the work dictates an ordering
      • Ex: Coding has to precede testing
      • Ex: UI design precedes UI implementation
  • Discretionary Dependencies
      • “Soft logic” dependencies
      • Determined by the project management team
      • Process-driven
      • Ex: Discretionary order of creating certain modules
4 task dependency types43
4 Task Dependency Types
  • External Dependencies
      • Outside of the project itself
      • Ex: Release of 3rd party product; contract signoff
      • Ex: stakeholders, suppliers, Y2K, year end
  • Resource Dependencies
      • Two task rely on the same resource
      • Ex: You have only one DBA but multiple DB tasks
task dependency relationships
Task Dependency Relationships
  • Finish-to-Start (FS)
    • B cannot start till A finishes
    • A: Construct fence; B: Paint Fence
  • Start-to-Start (SS)
    • B cannot start till A starts
    • A: Pour foundation; B: Level concrete
  • Finish-to-Finish (FF)
    • B cannot finish till A finishes
    • A: Add wiring; B: Inspect electrical
  • Start-to-Finish (SF)
    • B cannot finish till A starts (rare)
  • Program Evaluation and Review Technique
  • Based on idea that estimates are uncertain
    • Therefore uses duration ranges
    • And the probability of falling to a given range
  • Uses an “expected value” (or weighted average) to determine durations
  • Use the following methods to calculate the expected durations, then use as input to your network diagram
  • Start with 3 estimates
    • Optimistic
      • Would likely occur 1 time in 20
    • Most likely
      • Modal value of the distribution
    • Pessimistic
      • Would be exceeded only one time in 20
pert formula
PERT Formula
  • Combined to estimate a task duration
pert formula48
PERT Formula
  • Confidence Interval can be determined
  • Based on a standard deviation of the expected time
      • Using a bell curve (normal distribution)
  • For the whole critical path use
pert example
PERT Example
  • Confidence interval for P2 is 4 times wider than P1 for a given probability
  • Ex: 68% probability of 9.7 to 11.7 days (P1) vs. 9.5-13.5 days (P2)
  • Advantages
    • Accounts for uncertainty
  • Disadvantages
    • Time and labor intensive
    • Assumption of unlimited resources is big issue
    • Lack of functional ownership of estimates
    • Mostly only used on large, complex project
  • Get PERT software to calculate it for you
cpm vs pert
  • Both use Network Diagrams
  • CPM: deterministic
  • PERT: probabilistic
  • CPM: one estimate, PERT, three estimates
  • PERT is infrequently used
milestone chart
Milestone Chart
  • Sometimes called a “bar charts”
  • Simple Gantt chart
    • Either showing just highest summary bars
    • Or milestones only
gantt chart55
Gantt Chart
  • Disadvantages
    • Does not show interdependencies well
    • Does not uncertainty of a given activity (as does PERT)
  • Advantages
    • Easily understood
    • Easily created and maintained
  • Note: Software now shows dependencies among tasks in Gantt charts
    • In the “old” days Gantt charts did not show these dependencies, bar charts typically do not
reducing project duration
Reducing Project Duration
  • How can you shorten the schedule?
  • Via
    • Reducing scope (or quality)
    • Adding resources
    • Concurrency (perform tasks in parallel)
    • Substitution of activities
compression techniques
Compression Techniques
  • Shorten the overall duration of the project
  • Crashing
      • Looks at cost and schedule tradeoffs
      • Gain greatest compression with least cost
      • Add resources to critical path tasks
      • Changing the sequence of tasks
  • Fast Tracking
      • Overlapping of phases, activities or tasks that would otherwise be sequential
      • Involves some risk
      • May cause rework
mythical man month
Mythical Man-Month
  • Book: “The Mythical Man-Month”
    • Author: Fred Brooks
  • “The classic book on the human elements of software engineering”
  • First two chapters are full of terrific insight (and quotes)
mythical man month59
Mythical Man-Month
  • “Cost varies as product of men and months, progress does not.”
  • “Hence the man-month as a unit for measuring the size of job is a dangerous and deceptive myth”
  • Adding manpower to a late project makes it later”
mythical man month60
Mythical Man-Month
  • Why is software project disaster so common?
    • 1. Estimation techniques are poor & assume things will go well (an ‘unvoiced’ assumption)
    • 2. Estimation techniques fallaciously confuse effort with progress, hiding the assumption that men and months are interchangeable
    • 3. “… software managers often lack the courteous stubbornness of Antoine's chef.”
    • 4. Schedule progress is poorly monitored
    • 5. When schedule slippage is recognized, the natural response is to add manpower. Which, is like dousing a fire with gasoline.
mythical man month61
Mythical Man-Month
  • Optimism
    • “All programmers are optimists”
    • 1st false assumption: “all will go well” or “each task takes only as long as it ‘ought’ to take”
    • The Fix: Consider the larger probabilities
  • Cost (overhead) of communication (and training)
      • His formula: n(n-1)/2
    • How long does a 12 month project take?
        • 1 person: 12 month
        • 2 persons = 7 months (1 man-months extra)
        • 3 persons = 5 months (1 man-months extra)
    • Fix: don’t assume adding people will solve the problem
mythical man month62
Mythical Man-Month
  • Sequential nature of the process
    • “The bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned”
  • What is the most mis-scheduled part of process?
      • Testing (the most linear process)
  • Why is this particularly bad?
      • Occurs late in process and w/o warning
      • Higher costs: primary and secondary
  • Fix: Allocate more test time
      • Understand task dependencies
mythical man month63
Mythical Man-Month
  • Q: “How does a project get to be a year late”?
    • A: “One day at a time”
  • Studies
    • Each task: twice as long as estimated
    • Only 50% of work week was programming
  • Fixes
    • No “fuzzy” milestones (get the “true” status)
    • Reduce the role of conflict
    • Identify the “true status”
one final word
One final word…
  • The seeds of major software disasters are usually sown in the first three months of commencing the software project. Hasty scheduling,irrational commitments, unprofessional estimating techniques,and carelessness of the project management function are the factors that tend to introduce terminal problems. Once a project blindly lurches forward toward an impossible delivery date, the rest of the disaster will occur almost inevitably.

T. Capers Jones